Young guns to get a go
PORT Douglas Crocs coach Brad Cooper will bring a youthful focus into his first year as North Queensland coach with an eye to uncovering a few hidden gems at the higher level.
Cooper, a strong advocate for representative football during his playing days in Victoria and the Northern Territory, has been installed to lead NQ against South Queensland in July.
A month into the AFL Cairns season, Cooper has been poring over vision of other AFL Cairns games as well as speaking to coaches in Mackay and Townsville ahead of selecting the first extended squad in the coming weeks.
The 2016 AFL Queensland Senior Coach of the Year wants players who are determined to represent the region and further their football, not just the best players, in the NQ squad.
“I have said to our players at Port Douglas, it is the only time during the year you can step up a couple of gears and play finals type footy,” Cooper said.
“You can always unearth guys that thrive in the quicker, higher pressure and intensity environment and that is what we will try to do.
“We will not discriminate age wise, we will not just pick young blokes, but there will be a sprinkling of them in there.
“I have seen in representative footy before, younger guys have gone up to that higher tempo, they have stepped up a level or two.
“Hopefully, we can find a few like that.”
Cooper was an assistant to Rick Hanlon last year when SQ got the better of the hosts at Cazaly’s Stadium in the curtain-raiser to the AFL premiership match.
“The squad comes from Cairns, Mackay and Townsville, I will speak with all the coaches and get their take on things – from each area,” Cooper said.
“They know their players better than I do.”
Former South Cairns coach Daniel Lock will be Cooper’s assistant with Townsville represented by current Hermit Park Tigers coach Jamie Fogg.
NQ take on South Queensland in Cairns on July 22.
In the frame for selection is experienced hand Wes Glass